Poignant post as Memorial Day descends upon us. Hopefully a day of reflection, thankfulness and renewed courage and confidence.
You should read the whole thing (but keep the Kleenex handy), I’ll just go with the headline here:
Tom Manion: Why They Serve—’If Not Me, Then Who?’
I’m fairly certain that my fellow vets around here and, indeed, around the whole global brotherhood of warriors, have been asked or asked themselves the question “why did you volunteer?”
Much as I’d like to embellish it with phrases like “love of country”, “sense of adventure”, “duty” etc., all of them applicable to some extent, what it really boiled down to for me was that headline:
“If Not Me, Then Who?”
With the implicit understanding that, of course, somebody would have to go stand on that wall, and why should it be somebody else if you yourself was capable of doing the job?
Speaking for myself, there were no heroics involved, I just saw it as a necessary job, THE necessary job that needed, HAD to be done in order for our way of doing things to even hope to survive, and if not me, then who?
I could have opted out, with the number I drew in the lottery I was guaranteed to not see service if I so chose, and nobody would have held it against me.
Except for me. I would forever know that, choosing my option to NOT go, would force somebody else to go in my place. The quota had to be met. And for each one of us “freebies” choosing to volunteer anyway, some poor guy who really didn’t want to go would be released from that duty.
So that’s why I ‘volled’. I wanted to go, my family has a history of going, so why not? Again, it would save some poor slob who really didn’t want to or couldn’t go to embrace the suck.
Sure, words such as Duty, Honor, Country, Queen, G-d did play a part, but at the bottom line remained the headline for this post: “If Not Me, Then Who?”
So I took the step forward, not thinking so much about accolades and admiration, mainly thinking that “somebody who really didn’t want to now no longer has to worry about that.”
I hope he made the best of his life. I pray he did, because that would make it even more worth it, even though I’ll never know who he is. Which doesn’t matter. I don’t want his gratitude, I haven’t earned that, I just hope that he made the most of the other life he was granted. He deserves it. He was meant for other things, I’m sure.
And it was that right to pursue other goals which we were protecting, no?